Cat owners urged to be responsible

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
Email Jackson Lavell-Lee
FAWNA President Suzanne Strapp with cat owner Dylan TOmlinson who built an outdoor cat haven in his home.
Camera IconFAWNA President Suzanne Strapp with cat owner Dylan TOmlinson who built an outdoor cat haven in his home. Credit: Jackson Lavell-Lee/Jackson Lavell-Lee

Capes cat owners have been urged to ensure their pets are desexed and kept inside at night to prevent feral cats becoming a greater issue in the region.

The calls follow feral cats being declared pests by the State Government last week.

Feral cats regularly target the endangered western ringtail possum and southern brown bandicoot as well as other native mammals and reptiles.

City of Busselton engineering and work services director Paul Needham said it was now compulsory to register and sterilise pet cats.

“The City is considering a range of means to better protect wildlife in urban areas, including actions to encourage responsible pet ownership,” he said. “The City is also creating possum corridors in urban areas to reduce the need for possums to come to ground where they are most vulnerable.”

Cat traps are available from the City of Busselton for free and if a trapped cat is clearly feral, rangers will collect the cat and have it put down.

FAWNA president Suzanne Strapp said if an owner could not afford to register and sterilise a cat then they should not buy the pet.

“The single biggest factor that will reduce cat attacks is to bring pets inside at night or to contain them to an enclosure,” she said.

“You can make an affordable enclosure in your home to prevent the threat of domestic cats to native wildlife.

Ms Strapp said the cultural normality of turning unwanted kittens to the wild had seriously contributed to their pest status.

“It will take a lifetime to contain all the feral cats,” she said.

“We know from remote studies on endangered species that cats are a massive problem. We need more positive measures to help reduce the predator rate in the smaller amount of native bushland where competition for food is high.”

State Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the declaration would safeguard approximately 70 species from feral cat predation.

“Feral cats kill approximately 272 million birds per year in Australia, as well as many mammals, frogs and reptiles.”

Cat owner Dylan Tomlinson built a cat enclosure in his backyard and said the instructions were on the Cat Netting Australia website.

“Anyone can do it, that’s the best thing about it,” he said.

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